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Hundreds object to 236ft wind turbine

More than 700 people have objected to plans to build a 72 metre high (236ft) wind turbine less than 1km from the Peak District National Park.

Dairy farmer Stuart Heath wants to build the 500KW turbine at Red Earth Farm, Rudyard, in order to provide electricity for his business and up to 472 other homes.

But planning officers at Staffordshire Moorlands District Council have recommended Mr Heath’s application for refusal due to the visual impact on the rural environment and its possible effect on wildlife.

The district council has received 741 letters of objection from residents, citing a number of issues such as the proximity of the turbine to homes and a bridle path, and questioning the necessity of the scheme.

A number of objectors attended a special meeting of Horton Parish Council last night, where the application was discussed.

Mr Heath told the councillors and residents that farmers were being put under pressure to reduce their carbon footprint.

He said: “We are being encouraged by the Government to invest in renewable energy, with targets set by the last Government, and upheld by the current Government.

“We have also been asked by our customers, such as Tesco, to reduce our carbon footprint.

“We use a lot of electricity, as we have 500 dairy cows, and they produce a lot of carbon themselves, and so we are trying to reduce that.”

Mr Heath explained that in order to produce enough electricity for his farm he would need to build three domestic-sized, 35-metre wind turbines.

He said he believed a single turbine would have less impact, and added that the particular model he had opted for offered the optimum balance between impact and electricity produced.

Lesley Roberts, vice-chairman of Leekfrith Parish Council and members of Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA), addressed the council on behalf of the objectors.

She said: “This is a commercial rather than domestic turbine. It is far too large and obtrusive, in what is a beautiful and extremely special landscape, which is in the natural zone around a national park.

“The PDNPA’s policy is, if a farmer wants to secure his energy supply with a domestic-sized turbine, he should be allowed to. But if he wants to build a commercial turbine, that would be unacceptable.”

The parish council members voted to object to the wind turbine scheme.

Members of the district council’s planning committee will make a decision on the application next Thursday.